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SPORTS | 16-07-2018 13:10

AFA quietly ends Jorge Sampaoli's time in charge of national team

AFA and Sampaoli agree by 'mutual consent' to end his time in charge of national team. Reports suggest 58-year-old will pick up US$2 million in compensation.

With most footballing eyes on the World Cup final in Moscow, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) quietly announced on Sunday night that it had parted company with coach Jorge Sampaoli by "mutual consent," following the national team's poor campaign in Russia.

"Today the Argentine Football Association and Jorge Sampaoli agreed by mutual consent to bring to an end his position as head of the national team," AFA said in a statement.

The split comes just one year into Sampaoli's five-year contract and rounds off a disastrous few years for the national team and AFA chiefs.

Hotly rated in the game, Sampaoli achieved great success with spells in charge of  Universidad de Chile, the Chilean national team and Sevilla. AFA hired him on a long-term contract, with expectations he would be judged by the national team's campaign at World Cup 2022, which will be hosted by Qatar.

However, the 58-year-old's days as coach were numbered after the Albiceleste failed to fire in Russia, with their campaign fraught with tension and dispute.

Appointed in June 2017, his final game in charge was the last-16 4-3 defeat to France, who were crowned world champions earlier Sunday.

Divorce proceedings were complicated by Sampaoli's reluctance to resign and a costly contract clause were the AFA to sack him.

Reports this weekend in local sports newspaper Olé and national daily Clarín suggested he is walking away with a US$2 million pay-off, a far lower amount than previously speculated.

Previous reports suggested AFA would have had to pay over US$8 million to terminate the coach's contract early.

Record

Sampaoli's record makes grim reading given Argentina's usually high standards: seven wins, four draws and four defeats in 15 matches.

He was hired with a big reputation after guiding Chile to the 2015 Copa América title – beating Argentina on penalties in the final. He took over the national team's reins with the two-time world champions struggling to qualify for the finals in Russia after an underwhelming World Cup qualification campaign.

Sampaoli's team drew the first three qualifiers under his watch but Barcelona star Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Ecuador to send Argentina to Russia.

But things quickly turned sour during the tournament itself as Messi missed a penalty in the opening 1-1 draw with minnows Iceland, followed by a chastening 3-0 defeat to Sunday's beaten finalists Croatia.

A 2-1 win over Nigeria saw them progress as group runners-up to the knock-out stages where they fell 4-3 to France, a defeat that sealed Sampaoli's fate.

Speculation

Speculation over the identity of the national team's next coach is already rampant. While last time out big-name managers such as Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone were linked with the post, the current front-runners are significantly lower profile. 

Bookies favourites include Ricardo Gareca – Peru's coach at the World Cup who is currently debating whether to continue in the post – and ex-River Plate coach Matías Almeyda.  

 

- TIMES/AGENCIES

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